February 6, 2019

Take it to Heart

By: Larry Shaffer

My daughters, Beri and Brooke, and grandsons, Nate and Ryker!

Take it to Heart 

Proverbs 3 

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. 

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them (with a permanent marker) on your heart; So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 

Do we confuse knowledge with information? When I find myself in certain social settings, it becomes apparent that I rarely watch or read the daily news. I am often uniformed. I’m not proud of it and some good-meaning Christians will consider me negligent. I accept their critique; but I don’t plan on changing my habits and daily schedule, at this time. 

I read this statement recently: 

The barrage of readily available information has also created an environment where one of the worst social sins is to appear ununiformed. Ours is a culture where it’s enormously embarrassing not to have an opinion on something, and in order to seem informed, we form our so-called opinions hastily, based on fragmentary bits of information and superficial impressions rather than true understanding.  (brainpickings.org). 

It has taken me way too long in my long life to get to where I am today regarding my priorities. With very few exceptions, I have developed the habit of spending the first 60 to 90 minutes of my day reading my Bible, reflecting and praying and then writing down my thoughts and applications. Please forgive me if it sounds like I’m bragging. I really don’t mean to sound that way because the reality is that I’m a bonehead for delaying the development of this consistent habit until I was 57 years old. I turn 60 this year. I used to randomly read and pray (and never write) when I found time. I bemoan how much time I have wasted in my life. 

Once I complete my morning habit, I get ready for my work and my day becomes consumed with my responsibilities. The whole process of having priorities requires forfeiting certain activities we deem less important. I sacrifice certain activities that I would like to do because my morning habit is now set in stone. One activity I sacrifice is the intake of current events. I regret that, but I’m OK with it because I value knowledge and wisdom over information. 

Sorry for that tangent, but I suppose my point is that the application of Godly wisdom takes focused effort and time. And when the application of wisdom to one’s life becomes a daily habit, it loses its drudgery and become routine…even enjoyed. 

Back to the text: Wisdom is that application of Godly/Biblical knowledge. Wisdom in our passage today is defined as kindness and truth. If we only take away one principle today, it is this:  

Wisdom is the application of biblical truth lived out with kindness!!! 

Perhaps you should write that phrase down and reflect on it throughout the day today. OK, not perhaps! You must write that phrase out and reflect on it throughout the day today. Truth AND Kindness!!! 

Biblical truth without kindness is legalism. It is arrogant, condemning and cold. 

Kindness without truth is sentimentalism. This allows emotionalism over truth and the predominance of sentiment over reason. 

We have a human tendency to want or insist that one is more important than the other. My Presbyterian friends insist on truth above all else. I love them and even side with them (for the most part) doctrinally. But they can be the most exclusive and critical Christians I know. My charismatic friends firmly side toward emotion. They say, ‘we don’t need doctrine, just give us Jesus.’ I’m sorry but that’s silly. Doctrine is simply a set of beliefs founded upon a reliable source (such as the Bible). Every word Jesus spoke was doctrine. Jesus without doctrine is what happens when non-Christians quote Jesus out of context to prove their faulty point-of-views. 

I believe it’s a cop-out to justify whichever one we naturally have an affinity toward. Try not to fall into that trap. Some say kindness is all we need in this world. Others say truth is king. Let’s not be one of them. Both are mutually important. 

Be absolutely committed to both in your life. 

Lord, you have given us a mind and a heart. May you grow both our understanding of sound truth and flood our hearts with massive amounts of kindness. As Paul prayed in Philippians 1:9, may our love abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment. We ask for wisdom and in Your perfect measure, we ask for kindness as well. Amen!